A spelling test my daughter recently had in school, prompted me to look into the English language and its’ “idiosyncrasies”, as I like to call them. I have in the past, been called “pedantic” and even on occasion, “obsessive” when it comes to spelling and Grammar – I blame my Form 3 Primary School teacher, Mrs Jones. Mrs Jones made us re-write each word fifty times, if we dared to mis-spell any in our weekly spelling tests!!!
I’ve noticed that, although many people can speak English as their second / third / subsequent language (far better than I can speak any language OTHER than English!!), when it comes to writing and spelling, sometimes that can be another matter. And of course, there are many, many people whose first language is English, yet their spelling has a ‘pigeon’ quality to it. (Sorry Mum and Dad).
But, do we really need to know the three versions of Their / There / They’re or weather / whether or been / bean, or meet / meat and the ever faithful to / too / two??
Maybe, if you want to impress…Isn’t accuracy in language something to be proud of??
I’m not a linguist – unlike the majority of the Lingua Translations team, and I have nothing but respect for anyone who can confidently converse in a ‘foreign tongue’. I suppose it depends on what level a person would need to communicate. But in the world as it is today, with borders between countries blurring and the universal acceptance of the internet, countries once deemed ‘on the other side of the world’ although remain so physically, in the world of business, can become our next door neighbour.
There are ‘idiosyncrasies’ with many languages. Take French for example. The verb or noun can subtly mutate depending on whether it’s the first person singular, the sex of the individual, or the number of people – even the familiarity of the person to the speaker / writer.
In the Welsh language, the Consonant of a place name, noun, or verb can mutate, depending on the word immediately before it. According to my old Welsh Teacher, this was to improve the way the language “flows”. I know it made my Welsh GCSE more difficult!
Then we have the regional variations of a language. Spanish for example. When we think of Spanish as a language, do we not think of the people who live in Spain? However, within the country, there are numerous regions with their own dialects, offering a beautiful variation on the ‘neutral’ language. And as we know, Spanish is a global language, spoken in a number of countries, all with their own regionalisations.
Even with all of these differences / complexities, the language we speak today, maybe far removed from the language of our ancestors. New words, slang terms, regional variations – all adding to the complexities and beauty of modern day languages. And long may it continue.